As the years pass by, digital marketing continues to grow and evolve. However, despite the “top trends for 20xx” or constant “shiny new thing,” the reality is that the pillars of the digital marketing landscape remain the same:
While there are many other digital marketing strands, these are the four main things you need to optimize in a competitive digital marketing landscape. Let’s discuss each of them in this article.
What is Digital Marketing?
Before we delve deeper into the components of the landscape, let’s first have a refresher and talk about the meaning of digital marketing.
Digital marketing encompasses every marketing effort involving the use of electronic devices or the Internet. Nowadays, it means using various online channels and digital tactics to connect with customers on the World Wide Web. You can leverage channels such as search engines, email, or social media to reach out to prospects and target leads.
In today’s digital age, a digital marketing strategy is necessary if you want your target audience to go through your online sales cycle. A digital marketing campaign serves as the series of actions or building blocks that guide you toward reaching your goals. For instance, you can consider running a campaign that shares your best performing content on Facebook or LinkedIn to generate more leads through that channel.
With a clearer understanding of the digital marketing landscape, you can determine the most actionable way forward.
The Digital Marketing Landscape
Marketers often refer to the digital marketing industry as a landscape. In a nutshell, the digital marketing landscape is a collective name for websites, social networks, videos, email, and mobile devices – tools that help businesses sell their products or services online.
We’ve previously stated that there are five main pillars: Search, Social, Email, Display, and Analytics. Let’s go through each of them.
Search engine optimisation or SEO is the process of optimizing your website so it ranks higher on Google and other search engine results pages. An optimized website can increase the organic traffic your website receives. Improving your website’s ranking and generating greater traffic involves various tactics such as:
The content of your website is part of on-page SEO. By understanding customer intent (what motivates your customers to convert) and performing extensive keyword research, you can answer search queries and provide fresh, valuable content to your prospective customers.
As its name suggests, off-page SEO includes the tactics done outside your website to improve your rankings. For instance, publishing a guest blog article or leaving comments on forums is part of off-page SEO. It’s basically a way to improve your site’s authority and relevance.
This type of SEO focuses on your website’s backend, such as the technical aspects that make it easier for Google to index your site and increase your rankings. Examples of technical SEO include boosting your site’s loading speed and improving pagination.
Social media marketing promotes your brand on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to boost your online presence, build connections, and engage in meaningful interactions with your target audience. You can maximize the impact of your social media marketing campaign with a paid ads. Paid ads on social platforms allow you to strategically increase your ROI by targeting consumers and tracking the costs and ROI for each click on the ad.
Communicating with your customers via email will help you promote content, new offerings, discounts, and events while also enticing more people to visit your site. Examples of emails you can send include loyalty programs to repeat customers or blog subscription newsletters.
Display advertising through pay per click (PPC) ads is a cost-effective way of driving traffic to your site because you only pay for it each time someone clicks on your ad. This means you attract potential customers who are already interested in what you have to offer. When done properly, you boost your ROI through attracting quality leads.
The Digital Marketing Landscape: Reimagined Version
We’ve established the idea that the digital or online marketing landscape is a place where consumers spend time engaging with content alongside purchasing goods and services. The analogy is useful but it can also be difficult to visualize all its complexities and intricacies. After all, there are many places to explore in the digital marketing landscape aside from the four main pillars.
A better way to understand or visualize the landscape is to break it down according to the modern customer journey.
1. Awareness – Wandering the Digital Marketing Landscape
When thinking about the awareness stage of the modern buyer’s journey, we’re visualizing things from the topmost level. Imagine a map laid out in front of you so you see all the continents from end to end.
Your customer is somewhere there in the middle of the digital marketing landscape — in the middle of the map — but they are yet to become aware of the places or paths they can take. Awareness might be generated by them stumbling upon a social media post or a display ad. Or they may be led there by the real world via word-of-mouth from family or friends.
The awareness generators aren’t exactly clear yet. Your customer doesn’t know much about your brand and is still a few steps away from fostering a real connection. But in the similar way that you can spot storefront branding or recognize a business logo, the customer’s understanding of your place in the online marketing landscaping is beginning to become more detailed.
- Online ads – display ads, video ads, social media ads
- Email marketing
- Social media posts
- Word-of-mouth happening online and offline
2. Search – Selecting a Path to Take
The next phase of the modern customer journey is moving from awareness to a position of active interest. In the digital marketing landscape, this mainly involves search. This is the point at which the customer commits to a specific route in the landscape.
In the real world, there are many ways to travel from Point A to Point B. In a similar vein, consumers in the digital marketing landscape do not take the same paths or modes of transport. Additionally, some may take months to travel and take the scenic route (along with many stops). Others might be more direct and take just a few or so minutes to convert.
- Search engine results – organic SEO and paid ads
- Search on social media – Facebook marketplace
- Search on ecommerce sites – Amazon, eBay, etc.
3. Research – Areas to browse and explore
In this stage, the customer is well on their path now. The research phase is seeing the digital marketing landscape in clearer detail. In a sense, the customer is looking through shop windows, browsing the items on display, and talking to salespeople. They are comparing products and services side by side and considering the prices.
- On-page content – product descriptions, photos, and videos
- Social media including blogs and forums
- Customer reviews and testimonials
4. Conversion – Proceeding to check-out
Another stage on the customer journey, another location in the online marketing landscape. Now, the customer has further zoomed in and experienced the digital marketing landscape on a more macro level.
Of all the areas in the landscape, digital check-outs are the most similar to their real-world counterparts (complete with shopping baskets/carts and payment options) even though there will be some variety among the types of touchpoints consumers interact with.
At this location of the digital marketing landscape, user experience and site navigation are hugely important. The apps and sites which are most streamlined will see the best conversion rates.
- Brand website
- Mobile app
- E-commerce site
5. Advocacy – Reeling the customer back into the landscape
Post-purchase, you want to move the customer back into the landscape. In theory, this is the same digital landscape that we know from Phase 1. Many channels with various options for customers to interact. However, there are some subtle differences.
According to statistics, good customer experience is key in influencing their brand loyalties. If you want to increase customer retention, make sure you offer a good experience for a customer throughout their purchasing journey. This includes speed, convenience, consistency, and a human touch — creating real connections by making digital tools feel more human.
Main Takeaways for Digital Marketers
In today’s world, a huge part of your marketing strategy has to be digital so you can reach your target customers online. Along with this comes the responsibility of understanding the major pillars of a digital marketing landscape and maintaining a strategy that guides your customers through the buyer’s journey. This involves knowing which channels are most effective at which stage of the journey.
Much like how we navigate the real world, the digital marketing landscape has its particular touchpoints and defined areas where customers can convert. Your job as a marketer is to understand how each of these steps or areas on the journey differ from each other.
If you want to learn more about digital marketing and the online marketing landscape, don’t hesitate to reach out to Truelogic HK today.